Cabinet on guard: Defence Secretary Ben Wallace stands vigil over Queen's coffin during lying-in-state

15 September 2022, 15:44 | Updated: 20 October 2022, 13:53

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace today guarded the Queen's coffin as she lay in state in London.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace today guarded the Queen's coffin as she lay in state in London. Picture: Alamy

By Lauren Lewis

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace today guarded the Queen's coffin as she lay in state in London.

Mr Wallace was joined by a second member of Prime Minister Liz Truss's Cabinet, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, at Westminster Hall.

The pair stood solemnly in dark uniforms at the raised platform on which the coffin rests.

Both men are members of the Royal Company of Archers, which functions as the sovereign's bodyguard in Scotland.

The unit also watched over the coffin while it was in St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh earlier in the week.

After the Queen's death at Balmoral in Scotland, Mr Wallace said she had "dedicated her life to serving her nation".

Speaking about the Queen after her death was announced, Mr Jack said: "Her long reign was defined by hard work and dedicated public service, earning her the respect and devotion of her citizens."

The Queen's coffin is being guarded in Westminster Hall at all hours by units from the Sovereign's Bodyguard, the Household Division or Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London.

Mr Wallace was joined by a second member of Prime Minister Liz Truss's Cabinet, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, at Westminster Hall.
Mr Wallace was joined by a second member of Prime Minister Liz Truss's Cabinet, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, at Westminster Hall. Picture: Alamy

Read more: Queen to be buried with Philip after funeral including two minute silence

It comes as thousands of people queued in London to pay their respects to the Queen.

Some mourners are waiting for nine hours as the queue stretches for almost four miles along the Thames and past Tower Bridge.

Organisers are prepared for the ever-growing queue to stretch for up to 10 miles, from the Palace of Westminster to Southwark Park.

The original planned rout of seven miles will be extended with airport-style zigzag lines in parks to accommodate the huge numbers of people trying to pay their respects.

Among the many mourners at Buckingham Palace are tourists who happened to be in London on holiday.

Twins Nicole and Nathalie Nojszewski arrived in London from Canada on the day the Queen died last week.

Nicole, 23, said: "We wanted to come to Buckingham Palace to pay our respects. She was such a dignified lady.

"A lot of people still looked up to her with Canada being in the Commonwealth."

Read more: How long is the queue to see the Queen lying in state? Queue tracker and where it starts

Her Majesty The Queen's Lying-in-State | Queue Tracker

Read more: 'Strange fireball' sighted plummeting to Earth over Northern Ireland and Scotland

Cheryl Discher, 73, on holiday from Austin in Texas, US, also took the opportunity to visit Buckingham Palace.

Ms Discher said: "I just happened to be here in this time of history.

"So, I think it's fitting and right that I pay respect for the Queen who has led her country for 70 years."

With thousands continuing to wait in line, concerns are growing the queue could be closed as early as Saturday night, when officials will have to decide no-one else will be able to make it in time to see the Queen ahead of the end of the lying-in-state period at 6.30am on Monday.

The government has launched a live queue tracker to give mourners an idea of how long they will have to wait.

Launched by the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the tracker, available on YouTube, shows that the queue is now stretching to almost four miles long.

Inside the hall itself, some nodded and bowed at the coffin, others stood briefly in quiet contemplation, and others meanwhile were seen crying and comforting each other as they were overwhelmed by their grief.

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